Louisiana Office of State Parks
An aerial view of the complex earthen mounds at Poverty Point that were built more than 3,000 years ago.

Poverty Point Earthworks Named World Heritage Site


To build this complex array, builders had to move as many as 53 million cubic feet of soil. Considering that one cubic foot of soil can weigh anywhere from 75 to 100 pounds, and that the laborers carried it in 50-pound baskets, it’s a great communal engineering feat. Not only that, but they imported stone and ore from great distances. Projectiles and stone tools found at Poverty Point were made from raw materials that originated in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains and in the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys.

“Poverty Point is an extraordinary settlement built by an ancient hunter-gather society more than 3,000 years ago that deserves to be recognized as one of the world’s great archaeological sites,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. “It is a vital part of Native American heritage and culture, and its inscription as a World Heritage Site will draw visitors from around the world to Louisiana, providing an economic boost to local communities.”

Poverty Point was nominated to become a World Heritage Site in January 2013.

“Senator [Mary] Landrieu raised global awareness of Poverty Point and its Outstanding Universal Value, the hallmark for inscription as a World Heritage site. The Committee members agreed that Poverty Point deserves to be recognized alongside Stonehenge, the pyramids of Egypt and other great archaeological sites,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Rachel Jacobson.

In 1962 Poverty Point was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

This image shows the eastern approach to Mound A at Poverty Point. (crt.state.la.us)


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